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MOSCOW, June 19. /TASS/. The steps taken in Belgium and France to seize Russia's state property over the claims of ex-shareholders of the defunct oil company Yukos actually mean a new front of economic war opened against Moscow following western sanctions, Russian experts say.
Many experts believe Moscow should adequately respond to this move. But excessively tough measures are a risky path and Moscow should act accurately, other experts say.
The Yukos ex-shareholders have started a campaign to make Russia pay about $50 billion in compensation, which the Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague awarded to them a year ago.
As part of the steps to enforce the tribunal’s ruling, bailiffs in Belgium and France are seizing accounts and drawing up the list of Russia’s assets so far. But the bailiffs may soon switch to seizing Russian property, experts said.
Russian presidential aide Andrei Belousov said on Thursday the rulings by the European Court of Human Rights and The Hague Tribunal in the Yukos case were "quite disputable."
"We consider all this to be illegitimate and are taking a number of measures to protect our interests in the legal field and in a judicial manner," he said.
Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Russia completely ruled out the possibility of payment compensation to former Yukos shareholders.
This entire story is big politics, Director of the Center of Political Studies Sergei Mikheyev said. "The decision on the asset seizure has been made right now and it is clear that this is an addition to the sanctions," the expert told TASS.
"The coincidence is too obvious," he added.
Moscow should "respond adequately, firmly but within law," the expert said.
"The events unfolding in Belgium and France mean transferring the West’s economic war against Russia to a new level," Free Press web portal quoted leading expert of the Center for Military and Political Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) Mikhail Alexandrov as saying.
This attack on Russian assets can only be countered by the "threat of adequate retaliatory measures against the assets of western countries on the Russian territory," the expert said.
"First of all, it is necessary to leave Europe economically. Also, it is of course necessary to withdraw from the Council of Europe and no longer recognize the jurisdiction of the Hague Tribunal," he added.
"The West is waging a hybrid war against Russia and it has entered a new stage as was expected," Director of the Center of Political Studies Sergei Markov told TASS.
Russia’s disconnection from the SWIFT international banking message system and the Internet could be the next stage of this war, the expert said.
"These scenarios are in their plans and it is necessary to create alternatives," he added.
Russia’s response should be tough, the expert said.
"First of all, it is necessary to complete the case of accusations brought against Yukos-ex-owners charged with contract murders. Secondly, it is necessary to refuse to execute the rulings of international courts," the expert said.
Russia needs to act toughly, expanding the list of countermeasures, and seize the property of these countries in Russia, the expert said, adding this policy would escalate confrontation with the West.
"But it is impossible to avoid confrontation if the other side constantly escalates it. Russia’s restraint encourages their aggressiveness," Markov said.
But "retaliatory measures are quite a risky path," said Nikita Maslennikov who is in charge of finance and the economy at the Institute of Contemporary Development (INSOR).
"If we start retaliating, symmetrically or asymmetrically, for instance, by tightening the food embargo, then the entire work for slowing down inflation in Russia will come to nothing. In my view, it is necessary to respond in a weighed manner and wisely without detriment to ourselves," the expert said.
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